Tag Archives: Brexit

House Rejects All Brexit Options

What a mess.

A series of votes on Brexit options – known as “indicative” votes, designed to see what MPs would and would not support amid the Brexit deadlock – were held on Wednesday evening in the House of Commons, the main decision-making body of the UK Parliament, following hours of debate.

Unusually, MPs indicated their preferences using printed voting forms rather than trooping through the voting lobbies of the chamber.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced the results, revealing that MPs had rejected:

  • Leaving the EU with no deal on 12 April
  • Unilaterally dropping the plan to leave the EU if no deal is reached by 12 April
  • A new referendum on any deal/s to leave the EU
  • Leaving the EU but staying in a customs union with the 27 EU states
  • Two variations on leaving the EU but staying in the European Economic Area (EEA) and rejoining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
  • Negotiating changes to the Withdrawal Agreement more in line with the Labour Party’s position
  • Agreeing with the EU a period of two years in which UK goods have full access to EU markets

MPs from Mrs May’s Conservative Party were allowed by the leadership to vote as they saw fit, with the exception of her most senior ministers, who were expected to abstain.


The UK could still leave with no deal on 12 April if a way forward is not found. Although this is now regarded as unlikely, given the opposition of most MPs, by what method this can be avoided – and even who will be in charge of the process – is not entirely clear.

Brexit March

Not that I planned it, but I was in London for the gigantic anti-Brexit march that happened yesterday. My hotel was on Piccadilly across the park from Buckingham Palace. The march went right in front of my hotel. I skipped over to the City of London to escape most of the craziness, but was able to enjoy some fun protest signs. It took every fiber of my being to resist slipping in with a sign that said, “I’m American! I’m indifferent!”


House Speaker Triggers Constitutional Crisis

In Britain.

The House of Commons Speaker has thwarted any attempt by Theresa May to bring a third meaningful vote to parliament, unless there has been substantial change to the Brexit deal.

With Theresa May’s plans thrown into chaos by the move, one of her chief law officers warned the government could be forced to cut short the parliamentary session and restart in order to bring back the Brexit deal.

John Bercow’s shock move, which drew immediate criticism from May’s allies, suggested he believed such a fundamental change would involve a renegotiation at EU level rather than clarification of the legal advice written by the attorney general, something that had been suggested this week.

The solicitor general, Robert Buckland, said the decision was a “constitutional crisis” and that the government might have to consider the drastic step of ending the parliamentary session early and restarting a new session.

Brexit Broken

Divorces are always messy.

Theresa May’s planned Brexit deal has suffered a major defeat in the UK parliament, leaving the Brexit process in disarray.

Mrs May began the day with renewed hope after securing last-minute changes to her withdrawal deal with the EU.

But MPs roundly defeated her proposals, 391 votes to 242, weeks after her first attempt to pass the deal met the same fate.

Had the vote gone her way, the UK would be preparing to leave the EU on 29 March.

That exit date still looms large, but things could go a few different ways before then.

The next step is… another vote (this one on Wednesday). MPs will vote on a motion on whether to allow the UK to exit the EU on 29 March without a deal – a so-called “disorderly” or “no-deal” Brexit.

Leaving the EU without a deal – and therefore without the 21-month transition period provided for by the deal – carries significant risks for trade, immigration, health, and more, and parliament will almost certainly reject that possibility.

Rejection of a no-deal Brexit would then set up… yes, you guessed it: another vote.

This one would decide whether Mrs May will go back to the EU to request an extension to Article 50 – the formal name for the notification from the UK that it is leaving the union.

That would throw the Brexit ball into the EU’s court – potentially allowing the union to decide the terms of any extension period.

Brexit Shorthand

The BBC does a nice job of breaking down the latest news about Brexit without overwhelming you with the overheated rhetoric. This is my favorite part.

What was all that nonsense with the mace?

This chaotic and revolutionary-seeming period in British politics was symbolised best, perhaps, by an MP from the opposition Labour Party dramatically grabbing and making off with the ceremonial mace in the House of Commons after Mrs May called off the much-expected vote on her Brexit deal.

The mace represents the Queen in Parliament and debate cannot continue if it is removed.


I find infinite fascination in the Brits’ struggles to extricate themselves from being ruled by an overbearing overseas ruler. As Americans, we have some experience with that.

Boris Attacks Semi-Brexit


Mr Johnson does not pull any punches, telling Theresa May Brexit “should be about opportunity and hope” and a “chance to do things differently”, but “that dream is dying, suffocated by needless self doubt”.

He claims crucial decisions have been postponed, including preparations for a “no deal” scenario, “with the result that we appear to be heading for a semi-Brexit, with large parts of the economy still locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over that system”.

“It now seems that the opening bid of our negotiations involves accepting that we are not actually going to be able to make our own laws,” he says.

“In that respect we are truly headed for the status of colony – and many will struggle to see the economic or political advantages of that particular arrangement.”

He said he had congratulated the PM on Friday on getting the cabinet to sign up to her proposals at their Chequers away day, admitting that there were too few ministers on his side of the argument to get their way.

The government now had a “song to sing” on Brexit, he added: “The trouble is that I have practised the words over the weekend and find that they stick in the throat”.

Sometimes the middle road is not the best road.

Soros Pushes to Reverse Brexit


A campaign to secure a second Brexit referendum within a year and save the UK from “immense damage” is to be launched in days, the philanthropist and financier George Soros has announced.

The billionaire founder of the Open Society Foundation said the prospect of the UK’s prolonged divorce from Brussels could help persuade the British public by a “convincing margin” that EU membership was in their interests.

In a speech on Tuesday ahead of the launch of the Best for Britain campaign – said to have already attracted millions of pounds in donations – Soros suggested to an audience in Paris that changing the minds of Britons would be in keeping with “revolutionary times”.

Germany Worries About Decline of UK Market After Brexit

Remember that the reason Germany and other EU members fought Brexit so hard was due to their own self interests. They do not have Britain’s best interests at heart.

For the first time in years, German sweet makers have seen a significant drop in the number of exports to Britain, Stephan Nießner said.

The UK market makes up a significant proportion of Germany’s confectionary exports, with around seven percent of sweets produced in the country bound for Great Britain.


Sixty-eight percent of the cars produced in the city are shipped to the UK.

News that the German confectionery industry is suffering in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote comes as Angela Merkel insisted the reason her country enjoyed such a large surplus was because German-made products are in such demand.

Brexit Deadlock

This was entirely predictable.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier says there has not been enough progress to move to the next stage of Brexit talks as the UK wants.

He said there was “new momentum” in the process but there was still “deadlock” over the so-called divorce bill, which he said was “disturbing”.

“Decisive progress is in our grasp within the next two months”, he added.

This week’s fifth round of talks are the final discussions before a crucial EU summit on 19 and 20 October.

What you have here is a divorce where one party, the EU, that doesn’t want to split. They aren’t going to agree to anything short of Britain staying in the abusive marriage. The only way this ends is when Britain takes her stuff, moves out, and stops returning the EU’s calls and snaps. Only then will the EU come to appreciate Britain’s value and they can reestablish a more platonic relationship on mutually-favorable terms.

EU Unhappy with UK Brexit Provision

I suspect we’re going to see this cycle over and over again in the next few years.

Efforts to reassure EU citizens in the UK about their future after Brexit are “a first step but not sufficient”, a top EU official has said.

Under plans announced by Theresa May, EU nationals living in the UK for five years would get “settled status”, with access to health and other benefits.

The PM said people deserved certainty but European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker said more was needed.

And campaigners said there were still “more questions than answers”.

Remember that EU folks are angry that Britain has decided to exit the EU in the first place, so they aren’t going to be happy with anything other than a reversal of that decision. So Britain is going to announce a Brexit policy, EU officials will say it is insufficient, rinse, repeat.

These Were Not the Intended Results

Fascinating and hilarious all the same.

The ruling Conservative Party (nicknamed the Tories) thought it was going to increase its numbers in Parliament, but has instead lost seats – and its slim majority; it held 330 seats before the election (326 is the magic number for a majority).

Instead, the opposition Labour Party has won back many seats.

A graphic showing, after 649 out of 650 seats, Conservatives being largest party, but Labour having making a 9.5% gain

To cap it all off, Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t need to call this election – she did so because she thought she’d win a landslide. The result is being seen as a major defeat for her.

May Calls for Election

Even though she’s ahead in the polls, it’s a gutsy move.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap general election for 8 June, taking the country by surprise.

The previous election was in 2015, so another was not due until 2020.

Ms May pledged several times after taking office last year not to call an early election, so this is something of a U-turn.

Why the U-turn?

The prime minister wants a strong mandate in parliament going into what are likely to be fraught negotiations with Europe over Britain’s exit from the EU.

Her Conservative party has a relatively slim majority in the House of Commons, won in 2015 under the previous leader David Cameron. But since that election the main opposition Labour party has collapsed in the polls, leaving her in a much stronger position and making an election win significantly more likely.

A victory in June would also hand her a very important personal mandate. Having taken over from Mr Cameron when he resigned mid-term, after losing the Brexit referendum, she has yet to win her own general election.

Brexit Bill Passes Hurdle

The vote in the Commons was much less close than the referendum vote.

MPs have voted by a majority of 384 to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to get Brexit negotiations under way.

They backed the government’s European Union Bill, supported by the Labour leadership, by 498 votes to 114.

But the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats opposed the bill, while 47 Labour MPs and Tory ex-chancellor Ken Clarke rebelled.

The bill now faces further scrutiny in the Commons and the House of Lords before it can become law.

The prime minister has set a deadline of 31 March for invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, getting official talks with the EU started. The bill returns to the Commons next week.

Brexit Confusion

Wow. So the U.K. court has essentially ruled that the Parliment can ignore the national referendum results if they want.

The U.K. High Court ruled that lawmakers should vote on whether the government can begin the formal Brexit process by triggering Article 50 of the EU treaty.

Experts say parliament is unlikely to block Brexit outright. But the ruling could mean Brexit is delayed, and lawmakers may get a chance to influence what kind of deal the government negotiates with the EU.

The ruling is a defeat for the government. Prime Minister Theresa May wanted to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017, meaning the U.K. would most likely leave the EU two years later.

The government said it was disappointed by the judgment and would appeal.

“The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by Act of Parliament. And the Government is determined to respect the result of the referendum,” a government spokesperson said.

Effects of Brexit

The BBC has a pretty good rundown on how Britain if faring over two months since the Brexit vote. Basically, despite opponents’ predictions of economic and societal collapse, things are going pretty OK. As expected, the value of the Pound dropped after the vote, but stabilized. Consumer spending is fine. Trade is fine. The British seem to be holding to their character of soldiering on.

Paul Ryan Urges Trade Deal with U.K.


Ryan (R-Wis.) is advocating being aggressive early in establishing deals with Britain.

“Obviously it takes time to do something like this, but I think it is something we should be working on,” Ryan told ABC affiliate WISN in Wisconsin last week, according to comments his office published on the speaker’s website Monday. “We should begin discussions with Great Britain to ease concerns so that we do have a smooth trade relationship with Great Britain because they are our indispensable ally.”

Ryan later added on Wisconsin radio station WBEL that negotiations with Britain should be done on “a parallel track” to ongoing talks with the European Union toward a trade agreement known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.

Ryan, a frequent champion of free trade as a tool to improve foreign relations, isn’t the only lawmaker urging the administration to launch talks with London to ensure the U.S.-U.K. relationship won’t be harmed by British-European divorce proceedings.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said in a statement Friday soon after the Brexit results were announced that talks should begin now.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced Friday that he would introduce legislation that would require the United States and U.K. to “honor our current arrangements” until new bilateral deals are drafted. It also would direct the U.S. Trade Representative to begin negotiations “as soon as possible.”

There are many reasons that the U.S. should get a trade deal done ASAP. Britain’s relationship with the U.S. deserves respect. We are allies and friends who have supported each other vigorously for over a century. We should be holding our hands out in partnership. But it is also in the U.S.’s best interests. It is almost certain that the EU will seek to punish Britain and throttle Britain’s access to EU markets. Britain still needs a place to sell their goods. There’s no reason that the U.S. can’t benefit from their need in the form of advantageous prices on the things they export (vehicles, mechanical appliances, mineral fuels, pharmaceutical products, electrical equipment, etc.) and a place to sell American goods to replace E.U. goods. Also, by locking in an agreement with Britain right away, it bolsters the U.S.’s bargaining position in the negotiations with the E.U.

Hopefully the Obama Administration recognizes this historic opportunity to benefit both the United States and our ancient partner, Britain.

Brexit means a return to British rule

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

As America prepares to celebrate the 240th anniversary of the day she declared her independence from Great Britain, the mother country has declared her own independence from the European Union. In doing so, the British people have reasserted their God-given right to self-governance.

Haunted by a century of hot and cold wars that wiped out generations and destroyed civilizations, Europeans created the European Union in 1993 with the goal of uniting Europe into a single geo-political unit with a common economy, currency, laws and regulatory structure. The EU is the latest of several economic and political confederations that have been embarked upon in Europe since World War II. The concept of a federation of states is certainly not uncommon. In fact, it is a principle upon which our own nation is founded.

Britain’s membership in the EU was always a bit at arm’s length. While every other member of the EU joined in a single currency, Britain successfully opted out of the Euro and maintained its own currency. Perhaps Sir Winston Churchill knew his people best when he wrote in the preface to the first volume of his “History of the English Speaking Peoples,” “It (Britain) is very accessible to the invader, whether he comes in peace or war, as pirate or merchant, conqueror or missionary. Those who dwell there are not insensitive to any shift of power, any change of faith, or even fashion, on the mainland, but they give to every practice, every doctrine that comes to it from abroad, its own peculiar turn and imprint.” Indeed, they do.

For centuries, British foreign policy was based upon maintaining a balance of power on the mainland of Europe so that no single power could overwhelm Britain. Suave and skilled British statesmen continually manipulated continental friendships, grudges and power with the overriding goal of protecting the independence of Britain as a free state.

In one view, Britain’s involvement in the EU was an extension of this ancient policy. By participating in, and fostering the growth of, a united Europe in a confederation that respected the independence of the nation states that comprise it, Britain could further its national interests. The financial and merchant classes in Britain certainly stood to gain from an open European economy. And by maintaining its currency, Britain maintained its economic independence.

But then something went wrong. As the EU grew in membership and power, the powers in Brussels began asserting more power over the member states. Moving well beyond just promoting common trade rules and standards, the EU has taken to regulating the smallest facets of life, including things like bathroom fixtures, automobile features and farm animals. In doing so, the EU government has usurped much of the power heretofore held by each member nation’s elected government.

For the British, the issue that finally spurned their decision to leave the EU was immigration. By EU law, people are allowed to move freely to any nation in the EU once they gain entry. This means that when Greece, Germany, Spain, or any other EU nation decides to allow a flood of refugees and immigrants into their nations, Britain has no ability to stop those refugees and immigrants from settling in Britain. A nation that lacks the authority or power to control its own borders is no nation at all.

So the British have voted to leave the EU and return to being an independent sovereign nation like the United States. While many folks are panicking over the prospect of an independent Britain, they need not. The British people ruled themselves for centuries before the EU came into existence and they will have no problem remembering how to fully rule themselves again.

More than likely, the EU will punish Britain for leaving with tariffs and other economic penalties. The EU leadership has already signaled that they must punish Britain for leaving in order to threaten the remaining EU nations from following Britain’s lead. In doing so, the EU will likely plunge itself into a recession as they prioritize the preservation of power in Brussels over the economic well-being of its citizens, thus reaffirming Britain’s reason for leaving in the first place.

As far as the United States is concerned, we should stand shoulder to shoulder with our British brothers and sisters in celebration of their return to independence. The special relationship between our peoples, based upon common language, laws and traditions, has endured for generations and will continue in this new era. And now our peoples share something new: We have both cast off the oppression of a government from across the waves because we wanted to govern ourselves.

Happy Independence Day, indeed.


I gotta admit, I thought they would vote to stay in the EU.

Prime Minister David Cameron is to step down by October after the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, he said “fresh leadership” was needed.

The PM had urged the country to vote Remain but was defeated by 52% to 48% despite London, Scotland and Northern Ireland backing staying in.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed it as the UK’s “independence day”, while Boris Johnson said the result would not mean “pulling up the drawbridge”.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “absolutely determined” to keep Scotland in the EU so a second Scottish independence referendum was now “highly likely”.

It’s proving to be a fascinating political year on both sides of the pond.

Cameron Resorts to Emotional Argument

He does address some other issues about the Brexit, but it is interesting how most of his arguments are dismissals of the opposition’s arguments without a counterargument or appeals to base emotions.

If the UK votes to leave, he said, “that’s it, we are walking out the door, we are quitting – we are giving up on this organisation”.

“I do not think Britain, at the end, is a quitter,” he said.

He said Winston Churchill did not “quit on Europe” during World War Two, adding: “You can’t fight if you’re not in the room”

Really? That sounds like something you say to your 5th grader who wants to quit the basketball team. For those who want to leave the EU, quitting is precisely the point. From their perspective, they want to quit the EU so that they can preserve Britain.

EU Leaders Plan to Punish UK for Brexit

Nothing woos someone to stay like telling them that you’ll punish them if they leave.

The leaders of Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and other core members are likely to “double down” on closer union, the Financial Times reported, amid concern that Brexit could encourage separatist sentiments in other EU states.

Officials expect a punitive approach to Britain, with an official meeting of 27 leaders – excluding David Cameron – expected shortly after a potential Brexit vote.